Low Power Radio Legislation Afoot?

It appears there may be some movement in D.C. on some sort of legislation involving low power FM radio stations. It’s a curious thing: Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) plans to sponsor a bill to upgrade several old “Class D” FM educational stations.
The move stems from a controversy involving a high school whose 25-year old station might be bumped off the air by a commercial station who wants to move its transmitter to reach a larger audience.
While the FCC phased out Class D educational FM licenses in 1980, several dozen stations are still on the air. As part of the phase-out, they had to move out of the educational band of the FM dial (88.1-91.9 MHz). They also were endowed with “secondary” status: post-1980, if a commercial station wanted their frequency, the Class D station had to either find a new frequency or go off the air. Mercer Island High School’s station will probably have to shut down unless Sen. Cantwell’s legislation becomes law.
Unfortunately, this proposed bill only protects a handful of Class D stations – so called “super-powered” stations, “defined as those with a (50/50) 60 dBu service contour that equals or exceeds 6 kilometers.” About a dozen educational stations would receive primary status, but the rest of the Class D licensees (including the station at my undergrad alma mater, which broadcasts with 6 watts more power than Mercer Island High but yet does not meet the “contour criteria”) would still be left hanging.
As for the newer LPFM stations (which are technically identical to the old Class Ds): Senator John McCain (R-AZ) has yet to introduce promised legislation that would expand the LPFM service back out to its original parameters as defined by the FCC in 2000, later trumped by Congressional fiat. McCain and Cantwell might do well to compare notes, as both are working to expand low power radio.
In related news, a camera crew is traveling around the country working on an hour-long edition of a 15-minute documentary first released in 2001 by the United Church of Christ’s Microradio Implementation Project. The expanded version of LPFM: The People’s Choice will be offered to NBC affiliates sometime this fall; Susan Sarandon will narrate (Peter Coyote voiced the earlier version).